4 Ways to Fill 5 Minutes in the Secondary Math Classroom

By Daylight Savings, the clocks in our building are always off by up to 4 minutes. This might not sound like a big deal to anyone who isn't a teacher, but to us, this is a BIG DEAL. My students start lining up at the door and an exhausting game of wack-a-mole begins to get everyone back into their seats. 

My emotions run wild when this happens. What if my administrator shows up? What do people think of my classroom management? Why do my students feel like they can do this? UGH! The best way to deal is to just fill the minutes. So below are 4 ways to do just that.

Way #1 to Fill 5 Minutes: Exit Slips

Linda from Teach 4 The Heart compiled an awesome list of exit prompts that will work with any class in her blog post titled "10 Exit Slip Prompts that Will Work for Any Class". Examples include: "What would you like me to review tomorrow?" and "What is the most important thing we learned today?" To go along with Linda's list, I created this simple exit slip template that can be printed and ready to go when kids start lining up at the door. 

To make it easier for me to use Linda's list on my smart board, I put each on a separate Powerpoint slide. You can download the slip and the slides here. Be
sure to check out Teach 4 The Heart's blog post, too. It's chock full of reasons why we should all be writing all the time.  

Way #2 to Fill 5 Minutes: 4 Numbers

We all hear how literacy should be incorporated into all subjects, so why not incorporate math into all subjects? The thinking involved in solving these logic problems from 4nums.com work great to wake up any foggy brain or get any kid back in his seat. I always choose "no time limit". One of my students who isn't too into Algebra 2 always loves these puzzles! He gets them way before I do.

Students have to figure out how to make the number 24 from the 4 given numbers using a combination of add, subtract, multiply and/or divide. They are tricky! (And may end up filling more than 5 minutes!)

Way #3 to Fill 5 Minutes: Math Memes

We've all seen these meme puzzles on Facebook... And they are an AWESOME way to fill 5 minutes! Mashup Math has a whole page of these math challenges that can be easily pulled up to fill the time. 

Mashup Math Twitter Challenge of the Week

Way #4 to Fill 5 Minutes: Templates

I love Love LOVE templates. Just like the exit slips above, a stack of templates can be ready to go at a moment's notice. Where exit slips aren't usually graded ("No, you can't possibly think THAT was the most important thing today! F!" doesn't really fly), templates CAN be graded at a moment's notice. I use these a lot as warm ups, but when kids are out of their seats and backup needs to be called in, these will fill the job. 

The one above can be adapted to any linear function you can quickly think of and will fill those last 5 minutes. You can check out all of the free templates I have made so far here

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How do you keep kids in their seats? I'd love to hear your tips!

4 ways to fill 5 minutes in secondary math

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